March 31

Weather quite agreeable to-day. The Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundred and Tenth Ohio Infantry is officer of the day, a very pleasant, agreeable man; think I should like him. The Third Division of our Corps has exchanged camp with our old First Division; have very poor quarters.

Wednesday, March 31st.—We actually acquired an engine and got a move on at 4 o'clock this morning, and are now well away north. Just got out where we stopped by a fascinating winding river, and got some brave marsh-marigolds.

p.m.—Just getting into Boulogne.

March Thirty-First


At the peace of 1815 the Government was $120,000,000 in debt; its revenues were small; its credit not great, and the effort to raise money by direct taxation brought it in conflict with the States.... Mr. Calhoun came forward and devised a tariff, which not only gave large revenues to the Government, but gave great protection to manufacturers. Mr. Calhoun received unmeasured abuse for his pains from the North, where the interests were then navigation, and Daniel Webster was the great apostle of free trade.... Under Mr. Calhoun's tariff the New England manufacturers prospered rapidly.... Success stimulated cupidity, and the “black tariff” of 1828 marked the growth of abuse.... It was then that Mr. Calhoun again stepped forth. He stated that the South had cheerfully paid the enormous burden of duties on imports when Northern manufactures were young and the Government weak; the manufacturers had become rich, and the Government strong—so strong that State rights were being merged into its overshadowing power; he therefore demanded a recognition of State rights, and an amelioration of those burdens that the South had so long borne.

Thomas Prentice Kettell
(New York)


John C. Calhoun dies, 1850

March 31, 1864

Thursday. We started at daybreak and had gone perhaps twenty miles, when we overtook General Smith's army, which was stopping every boat that came along, until enough were had to carry his army. We tied up and I went ashore and mixed up with the western soldiers to see how they differed from the eastern troops. They are larger men on the average, and more on the rough and ready order than ours, but on the whole I liked them first-rate. They were at Vicksburg, and if they told the truth about the siege of Vicksburg, we of Port Hudson hardly know what war is like. As I could not match their stories, I told none, more than to give an outline of the siege, which they thought must have been pretty tame.

From an old man, a native, I was told an interesting story about a hill that is in sight. He said it is called "The Hill of Death," so named by the Indians, who fought a Kilkenny-cat battle there until all were killed but a few women and children. It is not much of a hill, not more than half as big as Bryan's "Sugar Loaf," but otherwise much like it. Boats kept coming and tying up. Those that came later brought news of the capture and destruction of the Lacrosse, just below Fort Derussey yesterday. Also that the Mattie Stevens was fired on and her pilot killed. Sim Bryan, our mail carrier, was on the Mattie, and if the Rebs got Sim and the letters he carried they know what our opinion of them is.

March 31

March 31, 1873. (4 P. M.)--

"En quel songe Se plonge Mon coeur, et que veut-il?"

For an hour past I have been the prey of a vague anxiety; I recognize my old enemy.... It is a sense of void and anguish; a sense of something lacking: what? Love, peace--God perhaps. The feeling is one of pure want unmixed with hope, and there is anguish in it because I can clearly distinguish neither the evil nor its remedy.

"O printemps sans pitié, dans l'âme endolorie, Avec tes chants d'oiseaux, tes brises, ton azur, Tu creuses sourdement, conspirateur obscur, Le gouffre des langueurs et de la rêverie."

Of all the hours of the day, in fine weather, the afternoon, about 3 o'clock, is the time which to me is most difficult to bear. I never feel more strongly than I do then, "le vide effrayant de la vie," the stress of mental anxiety, or the painful thirst for happiness. This torture born of the sunlight is a strange phenomenon. Is it that the sun, just as it brings out the stain upon a garment, the wrinkles in a face, or the discoloration of the hair, so also it illumines with inexorable distinctness the scars and rents of the heart? Does it rouse in us a sort of shame of existence? In any case the bright hours of the day are capable of flooding the whole soul with melancholy, of kindling in us the passion for death, or suicide, or annihilation, or of driving us to that which is next akin to death, the deadening of the senses by the pursuit of pleasure. They rouse in the lonely man a horror of himself; they make him long to escape from his own misery and solitude--

"Le coeur trempé sept fois dans le néant divin."

People talk of the temptations to crime connected with darkness, but the dumb sense of desolation which is often the product of the most brilliant moment of daylight must not be forgotten either. From the one, as from the other, God is absent; but in the first case a man follows his senses and the cry of his passion; in the second, he feels himself lost and bewildered, a creature forsaken by all the world.

"En nous sont deux instincts qui bravent la raison, C'est l'effroi du bonheur et la soif du poison. Coeur solitaire, à toi prends garde!"

165. John Adams

Philadelphia, 31 March, 1777.

I know not the time when I have omitted to write you so long. I have received but three letters from you since we parted, and these were short ones. Do you write by the post? If you do, there must be some legerdemain. The post comes now constantly, once a week, and brings me newspapers, but no letters. I have ventured to write by the post, but whether my letters are received or not, I don't know. If you distrust the post, the Speaker or your uncle Smith will find frequent opportunities of conveying letters.

I never was more desirous of hearing from home, and never before heard so seldom. We have reports here not very favorable to the town of Boston. It is said that dissipation prevails, and that Toryism abounds and is openly avowed at the coffee-houses. I hope the reports are false. Apostasies in Boston are more abominable than in any other place. Toryism finds worse quarter here. A poor fellow detected here as a spy, employed, as he confesses, by Lord Howe and Mr. Galloway, to procure pilots for Delaware River and for other purposes, was this day at noon executed on the gallows, in the presence of an immense crowd of spectators. His name was James Molesworth. He has been Mayor's Clerk to three or four Mayors.

I believe you will think my letters very trifling; indeed, they are. I write in trammels. Accidents have thrown so many letters into the hands of the enemy, and they take such a malicious pleasure in exposing them, that I choose they should have nothing but trifles from me to expose. For this reason I never write anything of consequence from Europe, from Philadelphia, from camp, or anywhere else. If I could write freely, I would lay open to you the whole system of politics and war, and would delineate all the characters in either drama, as minutely, although I could not do it so elegantly, as Tully did in his letters to Atticus.

We have letters, however, from France by a vessel in at Portsmouth.[166] Of her important cargo you have heard. There is news of very great importance in the letters, but I am not at liberty. The news, however, is very agreeable.


[166]The ship Mercury, from Nantes, with military stores obtained by Mr. Deane in France.

91. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 31 March, 1776.

I wish you would ever write me a letter half as long as I write you, and tell me, if you may, where your fleet are gone; what sort of defense Virginia can make against our common enemy; whether it is so situated as to make an able defense. Are not the gentry lords, and the common people vassals? Are they not like the uncivilized vassals Britain represents us to be? I hope their riflemen, who have shown themselves very savage and even blood-thirsty, are not a specimen of the generality of the people. I am willing to allow the colony great merit for having produced a Washington; but they have been shamefully duped by a Dunmore.

I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for liberty cannot be equally strong in the breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow-creatures of theirs. Of this I am certain, that it is not founded upon that generous and Christian principle of doing to others as we would that others should do unto us.

Do not you want to see Boston? I am fearful of the small-pox, or I should have been in before this time. I got Mr. Crane to go to our house and see what state it was in. I find it has been occupied by one of the doctors of a regiment; very dirty, but no other damage has been done to it. The few things which were left in it are all gone. I look upon it as a new acquisition of property—a property which one month ago I did not value at a single shilling, and would with pleasure have seen it in flames.

The town in general is left in a better state than we expected; more owing to a precipitate flight than any regard to the inhabitants; though some individuals discovered a sense of honor and justice, and have left the rent of the houses in which they were, for the owners, and the furniture unhurt, or, if damaged, sufficient to make it good. Others have committed abominable ravages. The mansion-house of your President is safe, and the furniture unhurt; while the house and furniture of the Solicitor General have fallen a prey to their own merciless party. Surely the very fiends feel a reverential awe for virtue and patriotism, whilst they detest the parricide and traitor.

I feel very differently at the approach of spring from what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether where we had tilled we could reap the fruits of our own industry, whether we could rest in our own cottages or whether we should be driven from the seacoast to seek shelter in the wilderness; but now we feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Though we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling lest the lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusillanimity and cowardice should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the evil and shun it.

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

That your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute; but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

April 5.

I want to hear much oftener from you than I do. March 8th was the last date of any that I have yet had. You inquire of me whether I am making saltpetre. I have not yet attempted it, but after soap-making believe I shall make the experiment. I find as much as I can do to manufacture clothing for my family, which would else be naked. I know of but one person in this part of the town who has made any. That is Mr. Tertius Bass, as he is called, who has got very near a hundred-weight which has been found to be very good. I have heard of some others in the other parishes. Mr. Reed, of Weymouth, has been applied to, to go to Andover to the mills which are now at work, and he has gone.

I have lately seen a small manuscript describing the proportions of the various sorts of powder fit for cannon, small-arms, and pistols. If it would be of any service your way I will get it transcribed and send it to you. Every one of your friends sends regards, and all the little ones. Adieu.

La Madeleine March 31, 1883

The Wickhams are most inaccessible people, only to be seen on the road to Gourdon or St. Cézaire. I have had only a glimpse of them; but we hope to overtake them between Château Scott and S. Paul's on Sunday. They have some wild scheme of visiting Languedoc.

Cross told me that he had asked for some criticisms of mine which you told him of. I answered that I did not believe you would send them, and he said that if you did, he would forward them unread. But I am sure there is nothing of any possible use to him. He is very communicative, and I am to see her letters and to advise as to publication. What I have seen is of such a kind that merely strung together with a few short notes, it would make a very interesting book: "Memorials of George Eliot."

The real answer to your remark[198 ] about that list[199 ] is that which Johnson gave about fetlock.[200 ] I have nothing to say about physical science that is not a reminiscence of conversations with Owen or Hooker, Paget or Tyndall; and it would be important to put down all the decisive works in those branches. I have tried to know the books on the history and method of discovery, the laws of scientific progress, and the tests of truth and error; and I find that this is a matter which very few scientific men take any interest in.

If I must defend my list, this is the sort of sophism I would employ:—

We all know some twenty or thirty predominant currents of thought or attitudes of mind, or system-bearing principles, which jointly or severally weave the web of human history and constitute the civilised opinion of the age. All these, I imagine, a serious man ought to understand, in whatever strength or weakness they possess, in their causes and effects, and in their relations to each other. The majority of them are either religious or substitutes for religion. For instance, Lutheran, Puritan, Anglican, Ultramontane, Socinian, Congregational, Mystic, Rationalist, Utilitarian, Pantheist, Positivist, Pessimist, Materialist, and so on. All understanding of history depends on one's understanding the forces that make it, of which religious forces are the most active, and the most definite. We cannot follow all the variations of a human mind, but when we know the religious motive, that the man was an Anabaptist, an Arminian, a Deist or a Jansenist, we have the master key, we stand on known ground, we are working a sum that has been, at least partially, worked out for us, we follow a computed course, and get rid of guesses and accidents. Thirdly (I am thinking, let us say, of my own son), we are not considering what will suit an untutored savage or an illiterate peasant woman who would never come to an end of the Imitation or the Serious Call. Her religion may be enough for heaven, without other study. Not so with a man living in the world, in constant friction with adversaries, in constant contemplation of religious changes, sensible of the power which is exerted by strange doctrines over minds more perfect, characters that are stronger, lives that are purer than his own. He is bound to know the reason why. First, because, if he does not, his faith runs a risk of sudden ruin. Secondly, for a reason which I cannot explain without saying what you may think bad psychology or bad dogma—I think that faith implies sincerity, that it is a gift that does not dwell in dishonest minds. To be sincere a man must battle with the causes of error that beset every mind. He must pour constant streams of electric light into the deep recesses where prejudice dwells, and passion, hasty judgments and wilful blindness deem themselves unseen. He must continually grub up the stumps planted by all manner of unrevised influence. The subtlest of all such influences is not family, or college, or country, or class, or party, but religious antagonism. There is much more danger for a high-principled man of doing injustice to the adherent of false doctrine, of judging with undeserved sympathy the conspicuous adherent of true doctrine, than of hating a Frenchman or loving a member of Brooks's. Many a man who thinks the one disgraceful is ready to think the other more than blameless. To develop and perfect and arm conscience is the great achievement of history, the chief business of every life, and the first agent therein is religion or what resembles religion. That is my sophism, beyond Dr. Johnson. But I think I represent Anglicanism by only one book, or two at most. Others, such as books on Church and State, cover much secular ground. Luckily, the paper limit stops me in the middle of a long prose.

[198 ] The predominance of books on religion and the few on science.

[199 ] The list of the hundred books given by Lord Acton to his correspondent.

[200 ] "Ignorance, madam, sheer ignorance."